Authorities send relief supplies, rescue and medical teams to two provinces
Earthquakes that rattled the provinces of Yunnan and Qinghai over the weekend left three people dead and dozens injured.
The three deaths were reported in Yunnan, in southwestern China, after a 6.4 magnitude quake and aftershocks struck the Yangbi Yi autonomous county in Dali Bai autonomous prefecture from 9:48 pm to 11 pm on Friday. At least 32 people were injured.
A few hours later, at 2:04 am Saturday, a 7.4 magnitude quake jolted Madoi county in the Golog Tibetan autonomous prefecture in sparsely populated Qinghai, in the northwest of the country. No deaths were reported, but the Ministry of Emergency Management said 11 people had minor injuries.
There was no causal relationship between the Yunnan and Qinghai quakes, but they shared the same root cause, Sun Shihong, a researcher at the China Earthquake Networks Center, told The Beijing News.
"Both earthquakes were affected by the squeezing of the Indian Ocean plate against the Eurasian plate," Sun said. "The power came from the same source."
The impact of the two earthquakes was relatively slight. The population density in the part of Qinghai that was affected is low and the quake was relatively deep, while the magnitude of the quake in Yunnan was relatively low, he added.
"It is unlikely that another magnitude 7 or above earthquake will occur in these two regions," Sun said.
Gao Mengtan, a former official with the China Earthquake Administration, said the country should not relax its vigilance on major earthquake risks, even though the situation was less severe this time.
"If the two strong earthquakes occurred in eastern China, with a high population density and developed economy, they would result in major disasters," he said in a post on the Beijing Earthquake Bureau's social media platform.
Ten million yuan ($1.56 million) in natural disaster relief funds has been allocated to each of the provinces.
The Ministry of Emergency Management and the China Earthquake Administration have dispatched teams to Yunnan and Qinghai to aid rescue work and disaster relief efforts. The administration also sent 57 people to the two regions to monitor the state of infrastructure and inspect geological risks.
The National Health Commission has dispatched medical teams to the two provinces.
The ministry said 5,000 tents, 10,000 folding cots and 20,000 blankets have been sent to stricken areas in Yunnan to facilitate relief work.
Yunnan dispatched 664 firefighters with equipment to the earthquake region by Saturday afternoon. They have rescued 17 trapped people. More than 22,000 people in the county seat of Yangbi have been evacuated to three emergency shelter areas, and the local government has set up 380 temporary shelters.
Yang Zhongxian, deputy director of Yangbi's housing and construction bureau, said 192 houses in the county collapsed after the quake, but no casualties were reported in the collapses.
Yang added that formerly dilapidated houses reinforced during poverty-alleviation projects had been able to withstand the temblor.
Chen Qi, 25, expressed lingering fears following the Yangbi quake.
"The earth was shaking and houses collapsed in a second," he said. "We hadn't experienced such a strong earthquake before. Everybody was scared."
He said that in the days before the 6.4 magnitude quake struck on Friday, small earthquakes of around 4 magnitude were frequently felt in his home village.
At noon on Saturday, dozens of villagers gathered various cooking materials and ate a simple lunch together near their tents, Chen said.
People in the county have carried on with their lives despite moving into temporary shelters.
Beside one relief tent, a couple was putting on makeup ahead of their wedding ceremony.
"We postponed our wedding due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Although the earthquake happened, we decided to finish the wedding this time," said the bride, surnamed Wang.
The couple planned to get married during Spring Festival last year, but rescheduled it to Saturday due to the epidemic.
"We already booked the catering services. Some of our relatives cannot show up because of the sudden earthquake, but we are still going to finish the simple ceremony," she said.